Dubai

From Dar es Salaam, we had a direct flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East probably wouldn’t have made our list of top places to see in the world, but when a friend from Virginia recently moved there for work, we weren’t going to pass up a chance to visit her!

I had spent a whirl-wind 24-hour layover in Dubai 2 years ago, and I remembered the city as elaborate and excessive. Which is exactly the stop Jeff and I needed between Africa and India! There is nothing to compare it to since it is over-the-top luxurious. Oil = $$$$, and although there hasn’t been as much oil production as there has in the past, people are still living large!

We spent the week in our friend Sara’s posh apartment. The building had a beautiful pool, gym, restaurants, grocery store, cinema and a mall (complete with Lululemon- what more could you ask for?!) so we never really had to leave. We spent much of the week relaxing and travel planning- it was absolutely wonderful. Sara and I were able to get some quality pool time in also!

 We did manage to see some of the city- Sara took us to explore the Spice, Gold and Textile Souk’s. We also had some delicious Lebanese food!

Of course we went shopping. Poor Jeff. I dragged him through multiple malls. We were both entertained by people watching and we stopped to get our first hamburger in months! The photos below are from the Dubai Mall (hamburger, ice rink, waterfall, Jeff at Coldstone), and the Mall of the Emirates (ski hill and grocery store decorated for Christmas- read below: huge expat community):

While traveling, we always try to learn more about the local culture. Most of Dubai is currently inhabited by expats, as neighboring Abu Dhabi is the emirate that is the seat of the government. You find some Emiratees in Dubai, but everyone working in the service industry is a forgeiner. Anyway, the UAE is a Muslim country, and there seem to be multiple mosques on every corner. Islam is not a religion that we knew much about, so we spent one morning taking a tour of the Jumeriah Mosque.

The tour was about $6 each and included some snacks before it started:

Arabic tea and coffee were served with lentil crepes (I think), camel cheese, and some form of delicious donut that I ate with date syrup. Breakfast of champions!

The call to prayer can be heard throughout the city (even in the shopping malls). The call to prayer happens 5 times per day, the number of times a Muslim is required to pray each day. After washing their legs, arms and face outside the mosque, men will enter to pray. (Women pray at home as they are not allowed inside the mosque at prayer time.) Once we covered up, we entered the mosque.

Note that everything in the UAE is heavily censored by the government. (Great- now no one in Dubai can read this post). We received some great information at the mosque, but we could tell that it was heavily censored, and the woman giving our presentation had excellent (government approved) answers to our group’s questions. Even the Imam’s (Muslim religious leader) talking points during their Friday prayer are dictated by the government. This would be the equivalent of the government giving every pastor or priest an outline for their Sunday morning sermons that they have to follow. Friday is the Muslim day of observation, so in Dubai their weekends are Friday’s and Saturday’s.

We lived it up on Saturday night and took the metro to the Dubai Mall. The metro is extremely cheap in this fairly expensive city, and really easy to use! The metro gets bonus points because it is air condiditoned- important when you are in the desert! At the Dubai Mall, there are fountains in between the mall and the Burj Kalifa. The Burj Kalifa is the tallest building in the world. I went up to the observation deck when I was in town before, and we elected to skip it this time around. But we did see the fountain show, and the light show on the Burj.

We recently hit our 6-month mark since leaving Virginia, and spending time with a friend meant so much to us. Thank you so much Sara for hosting us and teaching us about your new corner of the world. We can’t wait to see you again soon (I’m already missing that pool), and we are so happy that you are loving Dubai!

-Cara

Modes of transportation: Uber, metro, water taxi

Total amount spent in Dubai (including flight into Dubai): $968.01

Avg.: $138.29 per day

Almost half that expense was the flight, however it was actually cheaper for us to buy a ticket to Dubai and then from there to Delhi, then it was to buy the ticket from Tanzania to Delhi.

Bonus Post!!!! As we near the end of our time in each country, we try to get ourselves down to zero in that currency. We've been pretty good at playing the guessing game each time we go to the ATM, but normally we can't avoid having small change as we get to an airport. The change we don't spend usually goes into a donation box. In Dubai I scored a granola bar with my remaining 6 AED! It was a change from the usual chocolate bar and we left the UAE with zero Dirham left!

Bonus Post!!!! As we near the end of our time in each country, we try to get ourselves down to zero in that currency. We've been pretty good at playing the guessing game each time we go to the ATM, but normally we can't avoid having small change as we get to an airport. The change we don't spend usually goes into a donation box. In Dubai I scored a granola bar with my remaining 6 AED! It was a change from the usual chocolate bar and we left the UAE with zero Dirham left!